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Canada and the War
'Hey Mom! Why Haven't You Sent in That Form?' © The Hamilton Spectator, Reproduced with the permission of the Hamilton Spectator.
"Hey Mom! Why Haven't You Sent in That Form?"
© The Hamilton Spectator, Reproduced with the permission of the Hamilton Spectator.

Life on the Homefront: Family Allowances

In August 1943 the National War Labour Board recommended that the government start to pay out family allowances if it could not remove the freeze on incomes for low wage earners ( see Wage and Price Controls ). The Department of Finance agreed, already foreseeing an end to the war and thinking that, with assistance to families in this form, there would be no need for large low-rental housing projects after the war. The Cabinet also came aboard: ministers believed that allowances would enable consumers to buy goods and services and ward off a post-war economic slump.

When the idea was introduced in the House of Commons, some opposition Progressive Conservatives attacked it as a bribe to Quebec, where many of the biggest families lived. Conservative Premier George Drew of Ontario referred to Quebec as "one isolationist province," turned in on itself, which would dominate Canada's future. This made people think that the Conservatives were against social welfare and against Quebec, an image which helped to defeat them in the federal election in June 1945 ( see Politics and Government ).

The family allowances, the "baby bonus" as it was nicknamed, began on July 1, 1945. The allowance was paid to the mother in each family. Because the Quebec provincial government insisted, the family allowance was paid to fathers there.

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